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Why did the government abruptly cancel the new stadium project in Pécs?

picture of Tamás Mellár

When it was announced in the Official Gazette on December 24 that the government had reversed its decision to build a new soccer stadium in Pécs, news site 444 assumed that it was an indication that state finances were in big trouble.

But now, Nemzeti Sport, which the site calls “Viktor Orbán’s favorite daily paper,” claims that the stadium cancelation was due to a completely different reason. As they wrote:

The project ended because the majority of the people of Pécs were against building it. And since most of the city didn’t want it, the government didn’t want to force it on them.

So what really happened?

It is true that 80% of residents did in fact reject the stadium project as unnecessary in an online poll launched by opposition MP Tamás Mellár (pictured) this past spring, despite the support of the opposition-led Pécs municipality, as the government would have borne all of the costs of the 22 billion Ft. (US $67.5 million) investment project.

Following this poll, Fidesz Member of Parliament János Hargitai admitted that that although the southwestern Hungarian city did not have a modern stadium, swimming pool, or water park, “if the city doesn’t want [the stadium], the government won’t force it on them.”

However, Mellár’s poll apparently had no effect on the government at all. In June, a resolution published in the Official Gazette confirmed that the government would be financing the construction of the new stadium in Pécs. The ministers in charge of the project began to get busy, the project was declared a “priority investment,” and funding was provided for it.

And then, as part of a series of cuts called a “budget overhaul” on December 24, the project was abruptly cancelled by the government.

[444]

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